Wayzata Resident Helping Lead Public Television's Transformation

Wayzata resident David Weyerhaeuser is chair of TPT's Board of Trustees.

What was once solely a broadcast service is transforming into something entirely new with little resemblance to the single channel of public television educational programming launched back in l957. TPT is combining the power of broadcast and digital media to create a public service hub for the 21st century—and it’s getting a helping hand from some of the state and nation’s most powerful corporate CEOs.

Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills, and Brad Anderson, retired CEO of Best Buy, stepped up to co-chair a $30 million capital campaign to re-invent TPT. They are joined by Wayzata resident David Weyerhaeuser, chair of TPT’s Board of Trustees; Greg Page, chairman and CEO of Cargill; Stanley Hubbard, chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting; and well-known philanthropists Ruth and John Huss of the Huss Foundation. 

Jim Lehrer, executive editor of PBS NewsHour, will come to St. Paul today to headline TPT's announcement and talk about the power of public media. 

“Today TPT consistently ranks among the top-five PBS stations in the country for viewership, but with today’s media landscape and new technologies, that’s only a piece of what our viewing audience needs and wants,” says Jim Pagliarini, TPT president and CEO. “Those in the 'Net Generation' grew up gathering their information on mobile devices. We need to meet their evolving needs as they represent our next generation of community leaders, consumers and supporters.”

The campaign is an investment in the future to assure that TPT will continue to be relevant and impactful for future generations.   

“We are expanding and enriching our unique services and programming to address a full mosaic of today’s and tomorrow’s consumers,” says Pagliarini. “We believe media is the most powerful, educational and inspirational tool in our society today.”

New online and on-air services

The TPT transformation is not waiting to happen. While creating a massive digital hub, TPT is bolstering its online and on-air services.

50+ population: Recently, TPT announced Next Avenue (nextavenue.org), a new website aimed at the burgeoning boomer population. Next Avenue was created at TPT and is now used and supported by more than 70 other PBS member stations. It merges the power of online and social media with the reach of public television.

Community partnerships: Since 2001, TPT MN has produced more than 600 programs with 220 community and nonprofit partners. The programs present topics of high interest to people in Minnesota and have been seen statewide on the 24-hour, digital broadcast channel. A recent example is the Emmy award-winning Honoring Choices Minnesota, a three-year effort designed by TPT MN and the Twin Cities Medical Society to inspire and support family conversations about end-of-life care planning.

“This wealth of programming highlights the role TPT MN plays now and can play in the future as a public engagement leader,” says Weyerhaeuser. “It has proven to be an innovative, cost-effective way for public service organizations to expand the awareness of their work in the community.”    

Early learning: Continuing the success of Sesame Street and Big Bird, TPT partners with kids and their caregivers for decades of early learning.  Building on this trusted leadership with its thousands of hours of educational programming annually, the campaign will support a children’s initiative to create more kids’ content and to continue to digitize new and archived content for easy access.  

A current example of reaching today’s youth is Sparticl (formerly “SciLand”). Developed with a $2 million gift from 3M, the site will launch in 2013 at sparticl.org. It is a web and mobile destination for teens that will present the best STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) content on the web in a game-like environment where teens can search, learn, share, and earn points and rewards. 

Weyerhaeuser says he is fascinated by TPT’s re-invention. 

“I want to make sure that TPT continues this development into a truly unique educational and inspirational media hub for people in our region to access any time, any place," he said. "The visioning work was started five years ago and now we’ve begun to invest in people, programs and services, and in new digital technologies. This is a very exciting time!”

Last phase of campaign

The campaign announcement will take place at TPTs Lowertown headquarters, whose renovation is part of the capital campaign priorities.  In 2014, the station hopes to begin revitalizing the building by moving the main entrance from the skyway to the street level where the lobby will open up to a large community space for public events, concerts and performances.  The new light rail will run outside the new entrance.

The early “quiet” phase of the campaign has already raised nearly $20 million.  The last $10 million will be raised before the end of 2013 from both a capital bonding request from the State to support the renovation of its facility and from those in the community with a passion for media used for public service, not profit.

TPT at a Glance

  • Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) has been the top PBS station in the country in viewership for the last two years and has been among the top three stations for the last two decades.
  • Over its 55-year history, tpt has been recognized for its innovation and creativity with hundreds of prestigious awards, including Peabodys and national and regional Emmys.
  • tpt serves more people more often than any other cultural and educational organization in Minnesota with 1.3 million viewers watching each month.
  • As a curator of quality TV, tpt offers the highest quality, most trustworthy television programs from PBS and other sources for its viewers.  Examples are Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Nature, Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece Theatre, Great Performances, Ken Burns’ specials, American Masters, American Experience, PBS NewsHour, Charlie Rose, Washington Week and Antiques Roadshow.
  • tpt is a prolific creator of local content designed to educate, inform and inspire.  Examples includeMN Original, a weekly art series; specials funded by the Legacy Amendment; and Almanac, one of the most popular and longest-supported public affairs programs in the country.
  • tpt creates original television programs and web and mobile content for national and regional distribution through the PBS system.  Some examples are Slavery by Another NameThe Forgetting:  A Portrait of Alzheimer’s; Liberty! The American Revolution; Benjamin Franklin; Through a Dog’s Eyes; American Experience:  Alexander Hamilton; American Experience: Dolley Madison; Newton’s Apple; DragonflyTV; SciGirls and Make TV.
  • Much of tpt’s work is created in partnership with mission-driven organizations.  It has co-produced more than 600 programs seen statewide with more than 220 partner organizations. Examples includeHonoring Choices with Twin Cities Medical Society and Nourishing Lives, Ending Hunger with General Mills Foundation and Twin Cities United Way.
  • 3,380 hours – 39% of the tpt 2 schedule-- is devoted to programs for children, ages 2-11, in homes, classrooms and care centers.   Many studies have shown that watching public television has a measurable effect on children’s learning and social skills.  Sesame Streetalone has been the subject of more than 1,000 studies.
  • 50 percent of tpt’s $20 million annual operating budget comes from contributions from individuals.  Only 15% comes from governmental sources. Approximately 80,000 households are tpt members.
  • Twin Cities Public Television offers four channels of digital programming 24 hours a day on tpt 2, tpt MN, tpt LIFE and tpt WX (weather).


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